Is Bihar set to usher in Mahagathbandhan 2.0 in Bihar? A decision on which way Bihar politics will flow over the next two years is likely today as Nitish Kumar chairs a meeting of all MLAs and MPs of the Janata Dal (United) at 11 AM in Patna today. The JD(U), with 45 MLAs in the Bihar Assembly, has said that a decision on whether Nitish Kumar will continue with the party’s alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party could be arrived at during this meeting.
Besides the JD(U), the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad Yadav, which is the single largest party in the state assembly with 80 seats, has also called a meeting of its legislators in Patna at 11 AM today. The party has already reached out to Nitish Kumar and said it is “ready to embrace him” if the JD(U) ends its ties with the BJP. There are indications that the RJD may also allow Nitish to continue as CM.
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Indications of Nitish and Tejashwi cozying up became visible when the former Deputy CM softened his attacks against the Chief Minister. On one occasion, Nitish even walked him out to his car after an Iftar party hosted by the CM in Patna in April this year.
The BJP, on the other hand, has called all its 77 Bihar MLAs and MPs to Delhi where the central party leadership is keeping a close watch on the unfolding scenario. For now, all leaders of the state unit have asked to refrain from making any comments on the developing situation. The party will only decide its next course of action after watching watch Nitish decides at the meeting today.
Relations between the JD(U) and BJP, who are partners in the ruling alliance since July 2017 and won the Assembly elections in the state in 2020, had turned sour over a host of issues. Nitish has reportedly been miffed with the BJP over the “token representation” of the party in the Union Cabinet, as well as its refusal to sack the Bihar Speaker with whom he does not exactly share the best of relations.
The friction reached a tipping point when RCP Singh, former JD(U) national president who secured a ministerial berth at the Centre bypassing Nitish, began to project himself as the next Chief Minister. Sensing a conspiracy, Nitish shot off a notice to Singh alleging corruption in the procurement of vast amounts of property in the name of his wife and daughters. RCP Singh quit the party the next day, stating that the JD(U) was a “sinking ship”.